It can be hard for some folks to get into a car or truck due to a physical disability; temporary or permanent. Cars and other vehicles can be adapted to make them easier to enter. Vehicles can be adapted for folks who use a variety of mobility aids, such as power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, scooters, and more.
Assistive technology professionals and mobility companies can help you determine what types of modifications you might need to enter and drive your car.
What kinds of vehicle entry modifications are there?
Ramps and Lifts
Ramps are typically installed into minivans for wheelchair users. These can be opened with a remote as you get close to your car. The ramp may be in the back or on the side of the vehicle. Remember those diagonal lines painted on the ground next to the accessible parking spot? These allow space for the ramp to unfold. That is why you should never park your shopping cart or your motorcycle there!
When someone enters the van, they may anchor their wheelchair or make a transfer to the driver’s seat. Wheelchair users may be drivers or passengers, just like anyone else. Some drivers may also use a lift to elevate their wheelchair into the vehicle.
Hoists and Carriers
A hoist can be used to load a wheelchair or scooter into the cargo area of a van or truck. These systems may be manual or automatic. Carriers can transport wheelchairs or scooters.
If someone is transferring from their wheelchair into the driver’s seat, they may want to install a seat that automatically turns, extends, and lowers to allow a more independent transfer. This can also make it easier for people without mobility aids, who just have a hard time stepping up into a high van or truck. Swivel cushions are also available to make turning in and out of your regular, non-adapted seat easier, if height is not a concern.
Another consideration when selected or adapting a vehicle is height. A person seated in a wheelchair will likely be taller than the typical driver. It is possible to either raise the roof of a vehicle or lower the floor. Which you do will depend on the type of vehicle being modified.
Apps may help you find accessible parking or report misuse of accessible spaces. Some of these include:
- Blue Badge Parking
- Google Maps has a feature to allow you to mark and share the location of accessible parking
- Parking Mobility (to report abuse of accessible spaces)